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Huntington Bay residents to decide on salaries for village officials

Huntington Bay Mayor Herb Morrow has said that

Huntington Bay Mayor Herb Morrow has said that he will continue to push a proposal that would allow village trustees and the mayor to get paid. Credit: David Pokress

Huntington Bay residents will decide if village leaders receive salaries.

The board voted Monday night to create a local law that defines compensation for the mayor, the four trustees, two commissioners and the five zoning board of appeals members.

Residents will have the option to seek a referendum to vote on the new law, which will be the subject of a public hearing next month.

The $1.9 million budget for 2014-15, which the village board passed 5 to 0 at the meeting at the Huntington Yacht Club, included the pay for officials.

Money for the salaries -- $43,000 -- has been placed in a contingency fund and would be moved to the operating fund if residents support a salary of $1,500 a month for the mayor; $250 a month for trustees; $250 a month for the police and road commissioner and $125 per meeting for ZBA members.

If adopted, the law would be subject to a referendum that would require a petition from residents. Without a referendum, or failure to acquire enough legally required signatures for a referendum -- the equivalent of 20 percent of the eligible voters from the last general election -- the new law would take effect 30 days from the day it is adopted.

The board had attempted to simply add the salaries into the budget again this year, but residents balked at the process.

"We want a volunteer board," resident Deb Colton, who has long opposed paying the board, said after the meeting. "Putting it to a local law basically says to the community, 'You go out and defeat it.' We've already told them we don't want this."

For two years, Mayor Herb Morrow has lobbied to have the positions paid because, he said, the amount of work and time required to run the village of 1,600 residents is tantamount to a job. "These are not charitable or volunteer jobs," said Morrow, a consultant for staffing and recruitment firms.

The budget has no tax increase and a projected revenue of $2 million, including a $35,000 surplus that would be added to reserves. The budget includes money for roads projects and additional police equipment. The village has no debt, Morrow said.

A couple of people who attended Monday's meeting said they understood the board's desire for pay, but all who spoke agreed that the issue should be carefully considered, because of concerns that it could lead to higher salaries, benefits and pension contributions.

"Herb Morrow's new proposal of creating a local compensation law is simply an end run for him to achieve the goal of compensating himself and the board," resident Betty Wood said.

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